By Bailey Foxworth | email@example.com
Even behind masked faces, smiles were evident as Southeast Christian Church regathered as a church family at seven of its campuses Sunday, July 5.
Sixteen weeks ago, Southeast began meeting exclusively online due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Church members met in homes for watch parties with friends, neighbors and family members.
Senior Pastor Kyle Idleman was equally eager for in-person services to resume.
“I’m just really excited for all of you who are watching this at one of our campuses,” Idleman said in his sermon Sunday. “I am so glad that you’re here. It’s so good to be back together, to worship God together, to encourage one another. I want to thank all of you for your patience, for your grace, for your help as we slowly and intentionally ramp back up.”
Volunteers stood at entrances and welcomed attendees with signs that said, “Welcome back!” “We’re glad you are here!” and “We’ve missed you!”
Heather Rhein and Julie Embry, who are members of the Blankenbaker Campus, were excited to begin serving on Sundays again.
“We love serving,” Rhein said. “It’s how we became friends.”
Though in-person services are now available at most campuses (with the exception of the Chapel in the Woods Campus), people are encouraged to worship wherever is best for them and their families.
Idleman’s sermon, “Returning to Routine,” wrapped up Southeast’s most recent series, “Never Going Back.” Southeast’s upcoming series, “The Way Forward,” will walk through Jesus’ final discourse to His disciples in John 14-17 and will last through November.
In-person gatherings will continue, barring any unforeseen circumstances. Though government and health regulations about in-person gatherings may change, Idleman said that the church will never close, because the church is people, not a building.
“I hope that we get to keep regathering every week until Jesus returns, week after week, but I don’t know,” Idleman said. “Maybe we’ll have to push pause on gathering together in-person again. And if we do, it’s OK, because what I can tell you for certain is that just because we’re not able to meet together physically doesn’t mean that we are not still the church.”